In this season’s surprisingly star-studded Europa League tournament, two European giants will go head-to-head in the round of 16. Both sides have been poor and have something to prove.
Arsenal and AC Milan Will Face-off in the Europa League Round of 16.
Gunners Struggling With Ageing Wenger
Both AC Milan and Arsenal have had massively disappointing seasons overall. The Italian club spent over €100 million in the summer on a plethora of players, but are in a fight to claim a Champions League spot, currently eight points out. Although seventh place is not where Milan want to be, their season looked destined for worse just a few months ago when Vincenzo Montella was in charge.
At Arsenal meanwhile, the pressure continues to heap onto the shoulders of Arsene Wenger. Despite acquiring experienced stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Arsenal have lost four consecutive matches. This has made them slight underdogs for the tie against Milan in the Europa League. Something that would not have been the case until a few weeks ago.
In truth, Arsenal have been nothing short of tragic of late, and it seems like Wenger is to be sacked if the Gunners do not progress from this tie.
Milan Sacked Montella and it Completely Changed their Season
As for Milan, the key change they made this season was sacking the underperforming Vincenzo Montella and hiring the demanding, yet inspiring, Gennaro Gattuso. This was when their season turned completely on its head. Since hiring Gattuso, Milan have been in inspired form and have climbed up the Serie A table. When Montella was in charge, Milan looked similar to what Arsenal are right now. Lethargic, uninterested and weak. This all changed when they sacked a comfortable manager and took a risk in hiring a less experienced one.
Perhaps this could be a wake-up call for Arsenal. The pressure on Wenger will likely mean he will be sacked before the start of next season. Galvanizing the side and motivating them is crucial right now, and it doesn’t seem like Wenger is doing a great job of it. When you see the job that Gennaro Gattuso has done since joining Milan, you wonder whether Arsenal could tear a page out of their book and put their faith in a new manager.
The UEFA Europa League has always been an underappreciated competition, and having a tie such as this is a great event for all football fans. It’s a battle of former giants looking to reclaim their glory days, one step at a time. Both sides have had fluctuating seasons, but both have the Europa League trophy in their sights.
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